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Welcome to the Sick As A Dog podcast

Updated: May 14, 2023

Veterinarians aren't a luxury, they're essential.


I'm Caroline Winter, a journalist and dog lover, and this furry little guy is Harvey. He's the reason I embarked on this journey and produced this podcast.

A few years ago, I couldn’t tell you where to find a dog park, now I’m a regular.

Like many kids, I grew up with pets. At one stage we had a small menagerie - a bounding border collie-kelpie cross, an abandoned rusty coloured cat and a goldfish called Mornay.

But it wasn’t until my husband Drew and I got Harvey that I really understood the ‘having a dog’ thing.

Our miniature Golden Retriever Poodle cross is our fur baby. And overnight, I unashamedly turned into one of 'those' dog people. The ones who take endless photos of their pooch, bangs on about him to anyone that’ll listen and occasionally dresses him in something ridiculous.

As a dog owner, this furry being was now our responsibility, to feed, walk, love and look after, and to know who to call when he gets sick.

But what I learned is that the people we rely on in those moments are fighting their own battle. There’s a veterinarian crisis out there, that is killing the people who care for our animals.

Many more pets, not enough vets

Pet ownership in Australia has reached a record 69% which has skyrocketed since the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are 15,000 vets in Australia to look after 30.4 million pets. That's one vet for every 2026 pets, and that doesn't include horses, wildlife and livestock. And many hundreds more vets will be needed over the next few years.

But there's a critical shortage now, which is acute in rural and regional areas, and vet clinics across Australia are under intense strain or in some cases, have shut their doors permanently.

Our literal love of pets and their shift from the backyard to the bedroom, has changed the way we see pets. Owners expectations on the type of medical care they want is higher, and the scope and cost of medical care on offer is more sophisticated than ever.

For the vets, vet nurses and vet staff at the centre of it all, there is a worsening mental health crisis too. They're dealing with increasing verbal, physical or online abuse by clients, rising costs and the stress of dealing with owners who can’t afford to pay for treatment.

The situation is making the people who care for our animals very sick. It’s burning them out, forcing many to leave the profession and in some cases, it’s killing them.

But there is hope.

The issues, the fallout, the solutions

Whether you are a pet owner, wildlife lover, consumer of animal products or work in the industry, this podcast is for you and about you.

It is a whole of community issue, that without change could have dire consequences for us all.

Come with me as I explore the complex web of issues facing the veterinary industry and the impact that has on its people, the animals they care for, the community they serve and the serious ramifications those issues are having on mental health, lives and livelihoods, food security and animal welfare.

In this series you will meet some wonderful people, hear stories of heartache and triumph from the city to the bush and explore the financial, political and community pressure that weighs heavily on vet staff.

​Sick As A Dog will shine a spotlight on the many challenges, but also explore the potential solutions that exist - solutions that you and I are very much a part of.

Subscribe now to hear every episode as it's released. Thank you for listening!

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